The followers of Christ in ancient times were known for their good works. They imparted “to one another both temporally and spiritually according to their needs and their wants” (Mosiah 18:29). They served simply, right where they lived.
In 1842, the Prophet Joseph Smith organized the sisters in Nauvoo into the first Relief Society in order to aid the needy in their town. Their practical acts of service have multiplied through 150 years and have spread into 128 countries and territories.
The women of Relief Society today, says President Elaine L. Jack, represent “an army of righteousness. The motto of Relief Society, Charity Never Faileth, is so important that we are basing the 1992 sesquicentennial celebration around humanitarian service. Charitable service is not something we do occasionally. It is a way of thinking. It is a way of living. It is an attitude that we adopt.”
How can we make charitable service a natural part of our lives?
Relief Society sisters have found many ways to show charity in their communities.
In Milwaukee, Wisconsin, stake Relief Society president Dawn Rutowski read that a newly opened home for abused children needed small quilts. More than 150 women and girls gathered on a Saturday afternoon to tie 300 quilts that would provide warmth and security for the children. (See Church News, 27 October 1990, page 10.)
After discovering that a local hospital needed new pillows and bed sheets, Relief Society sisters in the Kowloon Hong Kong Stake purchased cloth and made 150 pillows and other items. (See Church News, 5 August 1989, page 7.)
Seven Relief Society sisters in Syracuse, Italy, joined women from other churches and civic groups to open a home for unwed, underprivileged mothers. (See Church News, 11 June 1988, page 10.)
When an eighteen-month-old Bolivian boy, Danny, was flown to Primary Children’s Medical Center in Salt Lake City for corrective surgery on his feet and hips, Relief Society sisters devotedly cared for him during his three-month recovery period.
Holladay Utah North Stake Relief Society president Sharon Kasteler reports, “The sisters who cared for Danny have the heart of the gospel in their lives today because they have shared and given.”
How can Relief Society women in our community give service?
Bishop Glenn L. Pace of the Presiding Bishopric reminds us that, as Church members, we may fast and give fast offerings, thus enabling the Church to do more to relieve suffering. “Every member of the Church can pray for peace throughout the world and for the well-being of all its inhabitants.”
He encourages us to open our eyes to needs close around us: “The greatest compassionate service each of us can give may be in our own neighborhoods and communities” (Ensign, November 1990, page 9). We must take the initiative. We have been taught correct principles. We need not wait for an assignment.
We invite you to join us in imparting service both temporally and spiritually during this sesquicentennial year of the Relief Society.